Florence Nightingale 's Environmental Philosophy Essay

Florence Nightingale 's Environmental Philosophy Essay

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A Review of Florence Nightingale’s Environmental Philosophy in Advanced Care Nursing
The mother of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale, originally published her Environmental Theory in 1860 in a book entitled Notes on Nursing: What It Is and What It Is Not. This book became the foundation for formal education of nurses throughout Britain and the United States (McEwan & Wills, 2011). She was one of the first to document and understand the impact of the physical environment on the patient and thus their outcomes. According to Nightingale (1860) nursing is it’s own art, separate but not inferior to medicine. This paper will look at a brief overview of Florence Nightingale’s Environmental Philosophy and discuss how this is applicable to nursing and the Advanced Practitioner role.
Philosophy Overview
In order to gain a true understanding of this Philosophy it is imperative to understand the assumptions that are underpinnings for this view. Nightingale had seven basic assumptions as follows: there are natural laws, mankind can achieve perfection, nursing is a calling, nursing is an art science, nursing is achieved through environmental alteration, nursing requires a special education base, and nursing is distinct and separate form medicine (Nightingale, 1860). There are also specific concepts listed within the Environmental Theory that are referred to as canons which include ventilation and warming, health and houses, petty management, noise, variety, taking food, what food, bed and bedding, light, cleanliness of rooms and walls, personal cleanliness, chattering hopes and advices, and observation of the sick (Nightingale, 1860). Selanders (2010, p.86) explains that environment is the “umbrella concept” for this philosophy. As such, N...


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...ses constitute the largest group in the healthcare industry…it is essential that nurses recognize and address the environmental hazards that might affect themselves, their patients, and the community at large.” With the specialized training and insight nurses have it is the obligation of the profession to place patients in scenarios which allow them the best opportunities for healing and good health. As Florence Nightingale (1860) so simply summarized it, any state of illness experience by the patient “is generally the fault not of the disease, but of the nursing” (p.2). With focused and astute observations and developed plans of care, the nurse is able to ensure balance and thus, assist the patient in achieving higher levels of well being and self actualization. This should be the goal for all nurses but especially those in advanced practitioner roles.
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